Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fowl Fraud

I don't know why I thought this story about a poultry-related scam was worth printing out … but print it out I did, and I'm not going to let 15 cents go to waste.

2019-06-27. Fowl, Gazette, 8-3-1923
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Hobart Gazette, Aug. 3, 1923.

Maybe I printed it out for the sake of the next story down, about Hobart travelers to Valparaiso being advised to take the Ainsworth route rather than the Yellowstone Trail, which was undergoing repairs.

The story in the middle column about the Gary hospital has so many familiar names that I can't talk about them all, but the one that jumps out at me is "W. Wagoner" — this reminds me that while reading the March 28, 1913 Gazette on microfilm recently (looking for other stuff), I came across the mention of Wilmont Wagoner, which in turn reminded me of that mysterious W.N. Wagoner who briefly operated the Ainsworth saloon and whose first name has eluded me. Well, now I have a theory: "W.N." = Wilmont Nelson. Can't prove it, of course, but who cares? Here's Wilmont Nelson Wagoner's death notice from 1938:

2019-06-27. W.n. wagoner, Hammond Times, 1938-09-11, p. 2
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Hammond Times, Sept. 11, 1938.

That story about the giant still at McCool is pretty interesting, too.

But getting back to the 1923 newspaper — over in the next column, George Hagerty's obituary reminds me that I've been seeing that name (Hagerty) here and there without really knowing who those people were. I think the son Albert is the one who lost his young wife to the Spanish influenza in January 1919. I wonder if this family has a connection to the George Haggerty/Hegerty who worked in the Reuben Bridle household in 1910 and attended Reuben's funeral in 1922? — but the age of that George in 1910 (24) doesn't match up to George Hagerty's son mentioned in the obituary, who was born in 1902 per the 1910 Census (which shows George Sr. living and working on his own farm).

Below that, Albert Orcutt's father has died.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Eyelash Cup Mushrooms

2019-06-22. Eyelash cups 1
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These mushrooms get their name from the short hair-like fringe around the cup.

They are small (.25" to .75") and low-growing. I think I would have missed them if I hadn't bent down to pull up some beggar tick plants, and would have missed them still if they weren't orange.

They grow in groups on rotten wood.

2019-06-22. Eyelash cups 2

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Scandal in Old Hobart

The scandal described in these two articles dates back to the 1880s and involves adultery, an unwed mother, a man's abandoning both his families, baby farming, the abduction of a child, and theft by deception. Aside from all that, however, the two stories give us some information about small businesses in Hobart in the 1880s … but the information is not consistent.

2019-06-17. Brighton, News, 8-2-1923
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Hobart News, Aug. 2, 1923.

2019-06-17. Brighton, Gazette, 8-3-1923
Hobart Gazette, Aug. 3, 1923.

The News gives a vague description for where the Allens' "small bakery" was: "on Third street east of Duck creek bridge." The Gazette has the Allens running a "small store on Third street, in the building now occupied by the Henry Ols family." An Ols descendant tells me that in 1923, the Henry Ols family was living at 801 E. Third Street. That house, according to the county records, was built in 1918; if the county records are correct, the "small store" must have been in a previous structure on that site — or the Gazette simply got the location wrong.

The Gazette also mentions that William H. Allen was a drayman. That helps us identify him in the 1880 Census, which shows William and his wife, Elizabeth — both 35-year-old natives of Scotland — living with their two small American-born children, Harriet and George. I can't find them in any census before or after that.

The four-acre tract that the Allens bought (mentioned in the Gazette article) is too small to show up on any plat map. The brick structure built as a barn but used as a house sounds interesting. (Of course I'm thinking of Eva Thompson's house at 32 North Hobart Road, built in 1889 per the county records, but that's just a theory I pulled out of the air.)

I hope that if Anna Brighton turns up, the local papers will tell us about it.

♦    ♦    ♦

We find two of the characters in this story in a couple of the record books I've indexed. For example, here's William H. Allen getting paid in April and June of 1889 for his janitor work in one or more schools:

2019-06-17. HTTA1888-049
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Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

The last mention I can find of him is in 1891, but of course I have not indexed all the existing records.

And here's Anna Brighton, also in 1889, being elected as a teacher in the Union Sunday School.

2019-06-17. USUN1888-020
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Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

I don't think her career in the Sunday School was very long, since I don't find any other mentions of her name. I wonder if she got a chance to teach the lesson in John 8:1-11.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Nonexistent Caterpillars

2019-06-14. Caterpillars (mystery) 1
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I found these two caterpillars munching on some leaves in my field, in blissful ignorance of the fact that they don't exist, according to my two guide books and everything I could find online.

They are blue in color, with black and yellow speckles, smooth, lacking hair, horns, or other protuberances.

I suppose they will eventually become (or not become) some nonexistent butterfly or moth.

2019-06-14. Caterpillar (mystery) 2

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Chicken Farm and the KKK

Here we have the Gazette complaining that a gambling joint between Hobart and Gary is operating openly and suggesting that, since local law enforcement can't or won't close it down, perhaps the KKK should step in.

2019-06-10. Chicken farm, Gazette, 8-3-1923
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Hobart Gazette, Aug. 3, 1923.

The Klan's "taking a hand" would be done outside the law and involve violence or at least the threat of violence (as one essay puts it, the Klan's "controversial methods" of suppressing vice included "late night visitations, tar-and-feathering, and applying a razor strap to the back"[1]).

The article above gives the location of the gambling joint as "near Gary, on the Chicago road" — that is to say, Old Ridge Road. Previously I had the impression that the "chicken farm" was somewhere closer to Lake Station, but I may have misunderstood. Or maybe "chicken farm" was a slang term for any gambling joint?

Meanwhile, in unrelated news, our favorite plumber, Charles Lee, was vacationing at Kuntz Lake, more commonly spelled Koontz.

♦    ♦    ♦

The previous day's News mentioned Valparaiso University's financial troubles and the possibility that the Klan might "take a hand" there as well, but not violently.

2019-06-10. VU, News, 8-2-1923
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Hobart News, Aug. 2, 1923.

Ultimately this plan came to nothing. It was an odd episode in the history of Valparaiso University, covered in detail by the late Dr. Lance Trusty in "All Talk and No 'Kash': Valparaiso University and the Ku Klux Klan," Indiana Magazine of History 82, no. 1 (1986): 1-36.[2]

The right-hand column contains some good news about President Warren G. Harding's health. But we know that isn't going to last.

[1] Jerry L. Wallace, "The Ku Klux Klan in Calvin Coolidge's America," Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation (website), July 14, 2014,
[2] This article can be read at

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Band Wagon

On August 20, 1876, the Union Sunday School officers were planning the annual picnic as usual, and apparently had considered the usual destination, Robertsdale, but suddenly they changed their minds, and the venue of the picnic became our own Wood's Mill.

2019-06-04. 1876 picnic USUN1873B 212, 213
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Images courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Further down on the same page, we see a committee appointed to procure teams for the excursion — that is, horses to pull the wagons that the attendees would ride to Wood's Mill; we also see the Hobart Cornet Band being invited to go along and provide music.

The next Sunday (August 27), the officers make arrangements to raise money for a team of horses to pull the "band wagon" carrying the Hobart Cornet Band.

2019-06-04. 1876 picnic USUN1873B 214, 215

I take that to mean that the band played music all along the way from Hobart to Wood's Mill. That must have been pleasant for the others in the wagon train, and for the people they passed along the way, to whom mobile music was a rare treat — not an everyday convenience as it is to us. I expect the wagon train went from the Unitarian Church south down (to use the modern-day names) Lincoln Street, west on Tenth Street, south again on Grand Boulevard down to the Joliet road (73rd Avenue), thence east to Wood's Mill. All of those were dirt roads. I can only imagine the difficulty of trying to play a wind instrument as you jolt along a rutted country road. Those were some hardy musicians on the band wagon!

At least there were no railroad tracks to cross. The Grand Trunk Railroad came through in 1880, and as for the EJ&E, I'm not sure but I think it came through sometime later in the 1880s.